Thursday, October 27, 2011

Katherine's Story

Although Katherine was born on Sunday, her birth story really starts on Friday.

After finding out earlier in the week that I was already dilated to 5 centimeters my mood was lifted. I knew the end was near and I thought Friday was it. And if it wasn't, I was going to will myself into labor. Brian worked from home just in case. I had some light contractions begin around 3:00 p.m. It was a beautiful fall day so we walked to the playground with the kids. They played for about an hour while I soaked up the warm October sun. I was still having contractions but they were very light and very inconsistent.

After the kids were in bed we put Casino Royale in the DVD player. But I was distracted. Contractions kept coming and I kept wondering if/hoping that they would start to get stronger and closer together. My mom even wondered if she should hop in the car and drive the two hours to be here with the kids. But I told her no because I wasn't sure if this was "it." When the movie was over I decided to go to bed. If this were really "it" I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep. And when I awoke to find the Saturday morning sun greeting me in the face, I was bummed. It wasn't it.

Saturday brought absolutely nothing. And zero contractions to go with it. Brian even commented that it was the laziest Saturday ever. William had a birthday party to attend in the morning. After lunch both the kids took great naps. I layed down with William and snoozed myself. For dinner I made whole wheat pasta and turkey meatballs in marinara sauce with a side of edamame. That evening our neighbors invited the kids over for one of their movies in the backyard. I told Brian I wasn't sure if I could handle any more questions related to the end of my pregnancy so I sent him with the kids and I stayed at home and finished some loads of laundry.

When the movie was over both the kids went to bed beautifully and Brian and I began to watch the Notre Dame and Wisconsin football games that I mentioned last week. Because both of the games were on at the same time we had to DVR both channels and flip back and forth, meaning that we watched a total of eight quarters of [disappointing losses of] football. It was around midnight when finished watching both games. We decided to head to bed.

After I washed my face, brushed my teeth and removed my contacts, I slipped into my sheets with a sigh thinking how tired I was because I hadn't made it to midnight in a long time. I closed my eyes and instantly had a very strong contraction. I grabbed Brian and told him. He glanced at the clock. 12:10. I closed my eyes and fell halfway asleep. Then I was awoken by another strong contraction. I even had to breathe through this one. I told Brian. He looked at the clock. 12:20. I was disappointed. Ten minutes was too far a part. I closed my eyes again. Ten minutes later I was again awoken by a strong contraction. So strong that I grabbed Brian's arm tightly to get me through it. When it was over he hopped out of bed, threw on the lights and started putting his jeans on.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"I'm putting my clothes on." he said. "We're going in."

"We are?" I said. It should be noted here that I never, in all my pregnancies, think I'm really in labor. Brian is always the one that has to make the final decision to go to the hospital.

"Yes, we are," he said. "I'll text your sister to come over."

He started following the list for my hospital bag and putting in the remaining items. I put my contacts back in and threw my hair up in a ponytail. While I was in the bathroom I had another big contraction and had to kneel next to the bathtub to get me through it. But when the contraction was over I felt completely fine so still, I wasn't sure this was really it.

Brian continued to pack up our stuff and call my midwife while I poured myself a glass of water in the kitchen and waited for my sister to arrive. By this time I had the full-on shakes no doubt from an adrenline rush of going to bed one minute only to realize the next that our plans for the evening would be much, much more exciting than mere sleep. I remember having a few contractions at the kitchen counter. I would lay my head on the cold granite while Brian pressed his palms into the small of my back.

At 1:21 a.m. I received a text from my sister saying she had just exited the freeway. That meant she would be there in five minutes. When she arrived I had just finished up a contraction and I asked her to remind me why I don't just take the epidural. I always have doubts about having a natural birth when I'm in labor. I think every woman must! But I powered through it.

So around 1:30 Brian and I finally hopped in the car and were off for the 10-15 minute drive to the hospital. The most entertaining part of the drive was that it was right in the middle of bar close on a Saturday night. We passed a few crazies on the way and at least one hitchhiker approaching our car right in the middle of a contraction. Brian ran a couple of red lights which was totally unnecessary but always provides for a fun extra detail to the story the next day. I think he secretly wishes he would get pulled over so that we could get a police escort to the hospital.

When we arrived at the hospital's emergency entrance I don't think the staff was fully up to speed on how far progressed I was because it took FOREVER for someone to come down and bring us up to the maternity floor. All the paramedics were gawking as I was contracting and kept offering a wheelchair.

Finally a nurse arrived and escorted me to my room where my midwife was waiting. She checked my cervix and found me to be dilated to 9 centimeters and baby's head very low. She briefly mentioned breaking my water and having me start pushing but for some reason I asked to go into the bathtub. At this point I don't think I was mentally prepared to realize that I was in full-on labor and that the end was here. So instead of pushing I went into the bathtub where I had about four more intense contractions.

After those contractions I looked up at my midwife and said, "So really you think you could just break my water and I can start pushing?"

"Yes," she said, "Why prolong the torture of contractions if you don't have to?"

So out of the tub I went and back into the bed. My midwife easily broke my water and told me I had a bit of cervix left that I would have to push through. As I pushed, she told me she was going to help move it around my baby's head. Those first couple of pushes were a real struggle because I didn't feel like I was making any progress. But once she successfully moved the cervix I could really feel baby coming and I remember taking a break before my next, and last, contraction and saying a quick prayer.

I said: Please God, give me the strength to push this baby out with the next contraction. I really want this pain to be over and I want to see this baby.
On the next contraction I held my breath and pushed with everything I had. I watched Brian's eyes get wide and listened as he told me with a confident voice that I was doing a really good job. It wasn't one of those fake tones where you know you're not really doing anything and they're just saying that to help encourage you to keep going. I knew this was for real. So I kept pushing. I felt a brief respite when the baby's head was out only to feel a bit of gloom when I realized I still had the shoulders left. So I kept pushing. And finally I felt the baby slide all the way out. Relief. Glorious relief! The pain really is 100% gone as soon as that baby is out.

2:34 a.m. As in about 40 minutes after we arrived at the hospital. I like to keep things exciting.

The midwife had to suction the baby for what seemed like forever so I yelled at Brian to tell me what it was. I felt like it took him an hour to finally look up with teary eyes and say, "It's a girl!"

A girl! Holy crap! I really thought I was having a boy. A girl!

My midwife finally put her on my chest and it was then that I got to see what a little chunk she really was. Later we would find out she was an 8 pounds, 11 ounce chunk, to be exact. She was a bit blue from being pushed out so fast, not allowing her lungs to completely clear of the amniotic fluid, but she pinked up fast. After she was pink the nurse kept rubbing her to get her to cry. After a while they realized she had no trouble breathing at all. She just wasn't crying. She was totally content just staring at her new world. And I was totally content with her in my arms.

After a few minutes I turned to Brian and said, "Hey, guess what?"


"I'm not pregnant anymore!"

It felt so good. But not nearly as good as sleeping away the rest of the night with my new baby girl in my arms.

I admit, this picture was not taken immediately after birth but rather after I had a bit to pull myself together and apply a little mascara.  Mascara--a new mom's BFF.

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